Cardboard Computer Fun

Okay, so this computer isn’t “An electronic device for storing and processing data, typically in binary form, according to instructions given to it in a variable program.” or “A person who makes calculations, esp. with a calculating machine.” but it can still be interpreted as a device that acts on inputs instantly.

Niklas Roy has created a plotter made entirely from cardboard and a few welding rods. His device is capable of drawing detailed art onto paper using a sequence of instructions. The example video shows him entering the commands from a book that draw the words ‘HELLO WORLD’ – what a classic. This is a pretty inspirational project, imagine what else could be crafted from mere cardboard and a little talent…

The cardboard plotter is made out of Finnish cardboard, which is very durable, but also easy to cut with a hobby knife. The axles and slide rails are made out of welding rod. Everything is connected with super glue, adhesive tape and tie wraps.

As an interface, I built two rotary dials and a switch. One of the dials moves the pen in y-position. The other dial moves the table under then pen in x-position. The switch lifts the pen or puts it on the paper. When I was done with building the plotter, I also compiled a little code book with coordinates for several drawings. They are written down as a list of numbers from 0 to 9, which makes it effectively a very simple digital storage medium for low resolution vector graphics. [niklasroy]

Browse Niklas’ Picasa gallery for more images of the project.